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ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck | January 23, 2003
Ben Jonson's 1609 farce, The Silent Woman, was among the playwright's greatest hits. Both John Dryden and Samuel Taylor Coleridge used the word "perfect" to describe this satire of Jacobean society. But American audiences are largely unfamiliar with the work, which is receiving its first-known professional American production at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, where it is currently in previews. Under Michael Kahn's direction, Ted van Griethuysen stars as Morose, an aging, noise-phobic bachelor who marries Epicoene (Ricki Robichaux)
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ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck | November 7, 2002
Broadway audiences know her from her starring roles in such musicals as Contact (which won her a Tony Award) and Steel Pier. But now Karen Ziemba is branching out and making her professional Shakespearean debut in Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington. Co-produced with Connecticut's Hartford Stage, the comedy is directed by that theater's former artistic director, Mark Lamos, who has set the action in the 1920s. Ziemba plays disdainful Beatrice opposite Dan Snook as the equally reluctant Benedick.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | June 18, 2002
Lillian Hellman's plays are often criticized for being excessively melodramatic, and the Shakespeare Theatre's production of The Little Foxes doesn't do much to dispel that criticism. Subtlety would be one way to counteract the extremes of melodrama, but while Douglas Hughes' staging makes some efforts in this direction, his production rarely achieves it. Nor is that the only difficulty with the Shakespeare Theatre's first venture into Hellman territory. From the start, the three actors portraying the venal Hubbard siblings strain credibility as blood kin. It's not just a matter of physical appearance, although that's a contributing factor.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 4, 2002
Son of Drakula, the new one-man show by Obie Award-winning former Marylander David Drake, will make its world premiere at the Theatre Project May 16. The autobiographical show was inspired by a genealogical quest that took Drake (whose original surname was "Drakula") to Eastern Europe where he explored links to Vlad the Impaler. In the tradition of Drake's award-winning off-Broadway hit, The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, which was filmed at the Theatre Project in 1999, the new work also examines personal, political and psychological issues.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck | March 28, 2002
Newcomers and veterans star in a new `Romeo and Juliet' Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece about thwarted love, opens Sunday at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre. The production is staged by Rachel Kavanaugh, a young British director with a reputation for focusing on Shakespeare's language. Shakespeare Theatre newcomers Paul Whitthorne and Jennifer Ikeda head a cast that also includes such long-time company members as Emery Battis, Edward Gero, Floyd King and David Sabin.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | January 29, 2002
John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is one of the gorier plays in English literature. But though it's a so-called "tragedy of blood," there's no blood visible in director Michael Kahn's intense production at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre. It's not that the requisite number of lives (eight) aren't lost. It's just that we don't see any of the red stuff being spilled. This turns out to be especially appropriate for a Jacobean revenge tragedy whose villains are extremely cold-hearted and bloodless.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 16, 2001
In the overwrought production of Hamlet at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, Hamlet's mother's bedchamber is completely encircled by sheer red curtains, and her bed is covered in red velvet. When Hamlet slays the old councilor, Polonius, who is hiding behind the curtains, the drapery cascades onto his corpse like an enormous pool of blood, and the murder is accompanied by a shrieking Psycho-like chord. Subtlety is not a hallmark of Australian director Gale Edwards' production, or of Wallace Acton's portrayal of the title character.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 5, 2001
There's ample justification for performing Sophocles' Oedipus cycle - Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - in a single night (albeit in abridged form). The ancient Greeks used to see the plays in one fell swoop. Now modern audiences, whose attention spans are considerably shorter, can do so, too. Michael Kahn, director of The Oedipus Plays at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, is an old hand at abridged epics. In past seasons, he has directed one-night versions of both parts of Henry IV, all three parts of Henry VI, and shortened renditions of O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra and Ibsen's Peer Gynt.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck | January 18, 2001
Washington's Shakespeare Theatre returns to the work of the 18th-century German writer Friedrich Schiller with "Don Carlos," currently in previews and opening Monday. Like Schiller's "Mary Stuart," which the theater produced a decade ago, "Don Carlos" is a historical drama. It's based on the tragic life of the son of King Philip II of Spain. Director Michael Kahn calls it a play as complex as the work of Shakespeare. Playing the title role is Robert Sella, who starred in "Angels in America" at the Mechanic Theatre and last appeared at the Shakespeare Theatre in "Mourning Becomes Electra."
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 18, 2000
The program for the Shakespeare Theatre's latest production describes the setting as, "The landscape of King Richard II's mind." Unfortunately, in this interpretation it's not an especially interesting mind to visit. Director Gerald Freedman's metaphorical setting makes some sense since, for most of "Richard II," the king is unable to see beyond himself. As portrayed by Wallace Acton, he's a weary, almost apathetic hedonist, a man who doesn't give a great deal of thought to much of anything, except self-indulgence.
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